Te Puna Quarry Park

24-IMG_8417
Old quarry equipment and a bench hidden among the greenery in Te Puna Quarry Park

People extol the virtues of New Zealand’s natural beauty, but landscaped local parks also flourish in the country’s perfect mild climate. And while there are enough local parks in New Zealand to fill a lifetime and we visited more than a dozen in our two weeks, Te Puna Quarry Park was by far the most beautiful and quirky. Situated just outside of Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty, it’s the perfect stop between visiting the region’s wineries/cideries, buying fresh fruit from roadside stands, and noshing on some of the best meat pies in the country (more on that one in a later post).

03-IMG_8325
“The Dreaming Stone”, a sculpture on display in the park. A full list of the park’s sculptures (many by local sculptors) is available here.

Te Puna was our favorite local park because it had something for everyone: a dizzying array of botanical life from cacti to orchids, beautiful granite sculptures hidden in the greenery, a butterfly hatchery for the scientifically inclined, and old rusted quarry equipment kids (or kids at heart) can play on. It’s the perfect combination of see, smell, touch, and do. And everywhere you can see signs of how much the park is loved and cared for, from the painstakingly-weeded walkways to the densely-packed park regions full of bromeliads, irises, and palms.

36-IMG_20170215_102724
Wooden totems hidden among the ferns

A visit to the park can take as little as 45 minutes and stretch into the hours (we were there for two). It’s also free to visit and cared for entirely by volunteers, so if you’ve got some coins to spare, consider dropping by one of the donation boxes. There are some by the restrooms in the parking lot, where you can also pick up a free map. If you’re staying or living nearby long term and end up loving the place, also consider volunteering to help keep the park beautiful. As usual, here are our most gorgeous photos of Te Puna below:

35-IMG_20170215_101235
Chamomile flowers bloom in the park’s herb garden.
08-IMG_8339
A touch of surreal: A worm sculpture in an old tree.
34-IMG_20170215_101207
A blooming dahlia flower. This variant of dahlia is apparently fairly rare.
06-IMG_8336
An Aztec-style jaguar sculture blends in with quarry stone and bromeliads.
16-IMG_8362
Little friend: a leafhopper hides behind a leaf. This is probably one of the introduced leafhoppers, Scolypopa australis.
02-IMG_8321
A sculpture rests among bushes
20-IMG_8388
Bees gather at flower to collect nectar.
05-IMG_8330
A blooming white lily
18-IMG_8372
A cluster of tiny white orchids, probably a variant or relative of Epidendrum secundum, which we saw growing in the wild on our Salkantay hike in Peru.
14-IMG_8357
A young milkweed pod. The park propagates large swathes of milkweed to feed monarch caterpillars, and will even collect unwanted caterpillars from nearby gardens.
15-IMG_8358
Young royalty: a small monarch caterpillar on a milkweed pod.
21-IMG_8407
Husks and cocoons of monarch butterflies in the park’s butterfly hatchery.
26-IMG_8425
Adults at play: the park features old quarry equipment that you can play on, although there are warning signs to take care and be safe.
27-IMG_8432
The rusted insides of the beast, complete with gears
29-IMG_8434
Springs and plugs in the old quarry equipment, long since rusted beyond use
32-IMG_8440
Rust up close, where the uniform reddish-brown becomes individual speckles of yellow, orange, red, and black.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s